Slayer – World Painted Blood
It’s been roughly 7 years since the “Godfather of the double bass,’’ Dave Lombardo made his triumphant return back to the legendary Slayer; bringing along with him that crisp edge and manic speed that Slayer is highly known for. Not much has changed for the Cuban American speed demon; he is still as ambitious as ever and extremely excited about World Painted Blood, Slayer’s upcoming 10th studio album [scheduled to be released in October].
As part of this year’s Rockstar Mayhemfest, Slayer made a stop in San Antonio, Texas on Friday August 15, 2009. I sat and chatted with Lombardo as he discussed Cuban culture, family, World Painted Blood and future plans for Slayer.
BlissfulViolet: It’s interesting how Slayer’s early history can be traced back to San Antonio; do you recall the early 80’s gig that you did, “Slayer vs. Slayer” here?
Dave Lombardo: Yeah actually I do, I remember. I just have a picture in my mind of watching another band that claimed to have the same name as we did. That’s pretty much it but we went on stage and we showed them really who owns that name. So- very cool.
BTDH: Was the actual show like a battle for the name? Some speculate.
Dave Lombardo: No, we just played together I guess. But you never know, maybe in the back of their mind, they were probably thinking “We’re going to show them up” or…they couldn’t do that.
BTDH: So how are you enjoying Texas show far?
Dave Lombardo: It’s great. It’s warm. I had a day off yesterday in San Antonio and walked a little down the river walk. I had some good Tex Mex, a nice relaxing evening.
BTDH: Did you get lots of fans saying “Hey, Slayer!”
Dave Lombardo: No I didn’t. I’m the least one noticeable. You know I’m the least recognized musician in the band. I think maybe because sometimes I have long hair or short; were a hat, grow out my beard…
BTDH: You’re in disguise.
Dave Lombardo: I’m always changing, I don’t know why. It’s in my nature.
BTDH: One thing I have noticed about Slayer is for some reason you guys seem to have the most dedicated, hardcore fans on the planet.
Dave Lombardo: Right
BTDH: From the billboard-God Listens to Slayer to the amphitheater fires, how do you view that? Has there ever been a point where you thought ‘that wasn’t necessary’?
Dave Lombardo: I think it’s cool that the kids really get into it. When they get into it, they show us what we’re feeling on stage; because we feel the same but we’re performing the music. You know they’re just expressing it differently. Whether it’s running around, screaming- being fanatics…you know lighting fires; whatever it is, we’re feeling the same way. We’re just expressing it in music. So- they’re letting us know “We feel what you’re doing.” So it’s cool.
BTDH: Has there been a certain event that sticks out as the most outrageous?
Dave Lombardo: Well in New York City, they pulled the seat cushions off the seats and started throwing them. It was insane- all these seat cushions flying around. I’ll never forget that vision and the dust that it created. It was cool and a lot of fun when you look back at these things.
BTDH: I want to now talk about your musical background, considering that you’re from Cuba. Cuba’s music is extremely unique and percussion based. How has this influenced your style?
Dave Lombardo: It’s a big part of my daily listening of music. I listen to music. I don’t watch sports or follow sports. I listen to music, I enjoy buying cds. Latin jazz and even Cuban music is a big part of me. The rhythms, patterns that they use…there are a lot of things that I do that come from that. Just the way I think a song is structured; I’ll think of it in a different way and approach my drums in a different way. It’s just my soul. It’s in me.
BTDH: Politics at one time separated the US from Cuba but now that’s all changed. Do you think that now there may be more openness to the Cuban culture? Perhaps we may see more…
Dave Lombardo: That would be great! A lot of Cuban culture has crossed over. Maybe within the past 10 to 15 years because I remember there was a time where nobody had heard of a Mojito [national drink of Cuba, Rum flavored with lime and mint] and now you see Mojito’s everywhere. Even in the music. Sometimes I listen to elevator music and I think ‘I know who this is; this is a Latin/Jazz song- Mompo Santa Maria’ or you know, another artist. Even in the Santana song, Oye Como Va. That was Tito Puente, of course and he’s from Puerto Rico but it’s all that island music. I don’t know what that has to do with the question that you just asked me but I’m just saying.
So I think it’s all great and the fact that we can all go now to Cuba, I think I’m going to go. I have to go. I really want to go. I haven’t been there since I was two. My mom’s still alive so she’s able to tell me street names, we had a house here, and this is where your uncle lived. You know, she’ll tell me all this information. My dad owned a meat market. He was a carnicero until the government took it away but he had 3 of them.
BTDH: Are your children aware of your culture?
Dave Lombardo: Absolutely. I cook for them Cuban food, go to Cuban restaurants. Obviously I play for them the music. They love it and know where it comes from. I tell them, ‘Kids you play drums because it’s in your blood’.
BTDH: And they’re interested?
Dave Lombardo: Oh yeah, they’re very musical inclined. My boys and my daughter- I have a 15 and 17 year old boys and my daughter, she’s 9 and plays the piano. My second oldest that’s 15; he plays the piano really good. He’s been playing the longest. My oldest is very business inclined, very academic but he plays drums. He wants to be a producer or engineer.
BTDH: That’s very interesting. Let’s now talk about the new album, World Painted Blood. I’ve been keeping up with the press and everything that’s going on and I know you guys have mentioned the albums producer [Greg Fidelman] frequently. I was wondering if you could give us some specific examples of how he has helped the band bring that old Slayer sound back.
Dave Lombardo: I think one of the best things and greatest thing that he did was go to rehearsal…To our rehearsal where it’s a room about half this size, from here to the wall and he heard us play. He feels and hears what this band is in a very small environment, very pure. So when you hear that, I think that helps you develop the band’s sound or what the band is supposed to sound like on record. And he defiantly captured the sound, so that was really important. He really worked with me personally. Let’s say a guitar riff, I will have different drum parts to put to that guitar riff but what I would choose may not be the wisest choice, so I would take the advice of the producer to help me choose what drum rhythm would be best for the part. Maybe I would pick one and he would say, “Why don’t you take the other one and do the second half with the other one.”So those were little things that he helped me out with and the same with the guys in the band.
BTDH: So he did his job and improvised during the sessions.
Dave Lombardo: Right. He brought out the best in us, the best musician. It’s good.
BTDH: So with you guys all collaborating in the studio, was that any pressure- considering that you have not taken this approach on previous albums?
Dave Lombardo: No it felt very natural because we are all very open to receiving this information, accept his advice. I accepted it. He’s a producer, why wouldn’t I. I’m a musician but he has a different way of perceiving what we’re doing. So an outsider view would totally help in making the record better.
BTDH: So for future Slayer albums, you’re defiantly interested in working with him again?
Dave Lombardo: I would love to work with him but then again, everything isn’t up to me.
BTDH: How was it collaborating with the other members of the band? I know you all had problems in the past.
Dave Lombardo: All I can speak is on the process, collaboration of music, it was very inviting. It was like we listened. We all listened to each other’s ideas. Our main concern was to make the best song possible, regardless of whose song it was. It didn’t matter, what mattered was making sure that everything fell into place and was structured correctly.
BTDH: And I’ve noticed that you’re very enthusiastic and confident when talking about the new album. You’re very excited and that for one already tells me that it’s going to be a good album.
Dave Lombardo: I don’t really express my feelings about music unless I really feel it inside and this record in particular- it just seems to me that the foundation, at least the drums were laid out solid. I think if the drums are solid and feel good to me from beginning to end, then you have a good foundation and everything else falls into place perfectly. It’s like a puzzle. Just as long as you have that border, which will be the drums- the foundation, then everything will fall into place. That‘s where I stand but I could be wrong. But I don‘t think so [laughs].
BTDH: What would you say the future has in store for Slayer once this album is released?
Dave Lombardo: A lot of touring. A lot of touring, a lot of work, a lot of this, conversing- expressing the music, how we feel…a lot of hard work.
BTDH: Great, well that’s all I have for you today. Is there anything else you’d like to include; about the album, fans?
Dave Lombardo: World Painted Blood will be released in October. I thought it was going to be the second or third week of September but now it’s been pushed to October, the first or second week of October. You know just to have a little more time, window for the album to be setup. So that way we can do all the press we need to do, nothing overlaps…um
BTDH: You’re not rushing it.
Dave Lombardo: We’re not rushing it.
BTDH: That sounds good. Well thanks for talking with us.
Dave Lombardo: Absolutely. Thank you.